Alison Gill

By Josephine Berry, 10 January 1997

Alison Gill at Sabine Wachters Fine Arts, Brussels - 12.9.96 - 9.11.96

"The X-Files Phenomenon" is a term given to the strange mix of non-rational spiritualism and scientifically grounded positivism that seems to be emerging in late 20th century reality readings. Gill's show at Sabine Watcher's Fine Arts, Brussels explores this cultural condition through the eyes of the sceptic and the believer - the dual ground on which she confesses to stand. Through her manipulations of familiar objects and images she is able to invest her work with this condition of uncertainty. In her series Emanations, Gill's use of 'Kirlian' photography (a photographic process that measures the fluctuating electromagnetic activity of the body) to represent her own hand, blurs the lines between the scientific and the mystical. The photographs, taken over an extended period of time, reveal the altering paths of energy that pass through the hand - these might or might not correlate with the psychic state of the artist. Kirlian healers would certainly have us believe that they do. In her work Transceiver, Gill once again collapses binary oppositions. The ventriloquist's dummy gains its own eerie powers. It stands bald and infantile yet threatening and determined at the top of a flight of stairs. Its crudely articulated jaw piece and eye sockets mock the highly naturalistic and lifelike quality of its eyes and mouth. The dummy is a battle ground for animate and inanimate powers. Finally, Kinetic Attractor (The Kiss), perverts the logic of two CPR dummies, designed as the passive receivers of First Aid resuscitation demos, by positioning them in a passionless embrace. Their truncated, disabled torsos leave them stranded in an eternal kiss - a kiss that seems unconsummated because both parties are designed to be passive. Gill both gives and takes away powers, both provides and denies life, both entertains and rejects the numinous and the uncanny.

Alison Gill's work was at Sabine Waechters Fine Arts, Brussels, 12.9.1996 - 9.11.1996

Josephine Berry <josie AT>